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The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a very important principle taught in many spiritual traditions around the world. Numerous Cayce readings also instructs us to develop this quality as well. But, the question arises… why forgive?

Why is this such a prevalent teaching? Why have we been instructed to forgive seventy times, seven times? What is the great power of the practice? 

From my own experience with forgiveness practice, I know that the power of forgiveness lies in its ability to free us from all the baggage we are carrying around within our hearts. I’m a firm believer that the work of the heart truly begins with forgiveness. And I am talking not only about forgiveness for others, but perhaps even more importantly, I’m also talking about forgiveness for ourselves.  

The inability to forgive weighs us down because we go around carrying all this baggage from our past interactions, experiences, and histories. I would even go so far as to say that without forgiveness we are actually chained to the past. For example, let’s say I ask you to call to mind someone who may have hurt you, wronged you, deceived you, used, abused, or took advantage of you. And now when you call them into your mind, let’s say you begin to get upset. Just the thought of this person begins to irritate you, make you annoyed, and angry.  

My questions for you are: 

Who’s really doing this to you?
Who is ruining your present-moment experience?
Is it really the person you are thinking about?

No! They aren’t even here with you now. They may be on a beach in Fiji not even giving you a second thought.  

What’s ruining your experience, the thing that is actually causing you to get angry and upset, is all the “baggage” you are carrying around in regards to them, the hurt that they may have caused you, etc… Without forgiveness, we are constantly carrying around all this extra weight and remain caught in the hurt and pain of our history.  

Through forgiveness, we free ourselves from this past history. We break the chains that are binding us and holding us down so that we can move forward in our journey lighter and freer. And thankfully, like any quality or trait, forgiveness can be cultivated and learned. It will just take time and effort. 

Something very important to remember about forgiveness though is that forgiveness does not ignore the truth of our suffering. It acknowledges what is unjust and wrong. It doesn’t say that any harm or hurt that was done to us is ok. It simply says that we are going to let the baggage go. We are not going to carry it around any longer.  

Sadly, some have come to believe that forgiveness is a weakness. They think that maybe in some way the practice turns us into a doormat. But this is not true at all. Forgiveness is not weak. It demands courage. Gandhi called forgiveness a “soul force” and the Bhagavad-Gita, a very sacred text in the Hindu tradition, says “If you want to see the heroic look to those who can love in return for hatred; and if you want to see the strong look to those who can forgive.” 

One more very important point to remember is that forgiveness really isn’t for the other person. Forgiveness is fundamentally for our own sake. It’s for us; our mental and spiritual health. For, in forgiveness, we let go and find relief in our hearts for all the anger, hurt, bitterness, and hatred we may carry. 

And though when we speak of forgiveness, we often think of it in terms of forgiving others. Finding a way to extend forgiveness to ourselves is one of our most essential tasks too. If we look honestly at our life, we can see the sorrows, pains, and hurts that we have caused others and ourself through our thoughts, words, actions & deeds. And therefore, we must learn to not condemn ourselves but rather look compassionately upon ourselves and our lives. We must extend a compassionate hand of forgiveness to ourselves for making mistakes, acting badly, and being a learner in this life. 

Edgar Cayce said, “Don’t condemn self, don’t condemn others. As you would be forgiven, forgive others.”  

Forgiveness is a practice because we must work at it. And I tell you truthfully, if we sincerely work at it, there is nothing in this world that isn’t forgivable, that is if we truly want to forgive. But when practicing please keep in the back of your mind that it is a process. We may go through stages of grief, contentment, sorrow, fear and confusion. There may be times we think we have forgiven people and situations and then months later something happens and brings to light that we still hold resentment or anger towards someone or ourselves for a hurt or wrong that was done. Just continue to work at it and know that true forgiveness will arise at some point. Perhaps even forgive yourself for not being ready to forgive just yet, as that is perfectly fine.  

When Cayce was asked “How can I overcome antagonistic forces in self and others?” He replied, “By ACTUALLY manifesting forgiveness, more and more.”  

Republished with permission from edgarcayce.org.

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